Day 3: Marking Time

eggIt’s been a soggy day, not a bad day, but to be truthful, not a great one either. Much of the day was spent on quotidian tasks and dealing with low-grade technology issues but I did meet with the lighting specialist and the electrician. Here’s an amazing thing: the lights that work best for our back room are in stock and relatively inexpensive. So progress. By this weekend much of the lighting will be up. And by tomorrow night, most of the painting will be done.

One of the things about spending 100 days noticing your life is that not every day, not nearly every day, will be an easy day with a perfect moment to share. So on this dreary, rainy day, I took a picture of some stellar soup I had for lunch (vegan sweet potato, kale and peanut soup with just the right amount of heat) but the lighting was poor. Telfer and Cate and I had a quick early dinner at our favorite pizza place but Cate wasn’t in the space where taking her picture was a good idea.

When I first got home, in the early evening, Telfer and I sat at the table and chatted while we both finished up a bit of work. I looked over to see this huge calendar (from 1canoe2) on our kitchen wall and thought yes, this is what I am noticing and calling out today. Sometimes beautiful paper products can be the bright spot. It’s not shallow, it’s noticing what makes your home feel like your home. This calendar fills an empty wall in such an exact, “you-belong-here!” sort of way. I love having calendars that I change every month (we also have this one). The act of changing the pages is almost a ritual for me; it marks time in a concrete way.

Day 2: Spring Break Musings

cate readingIt’s Spring Break. For the last couple of years during SB, I have worked less than normal, bringing the girls with me to the store for a limited amount of time each day. This year with the construction project, there’s really nowhere for them to play and there are no railings upstairs. Safety first: I signed them up for a drama camp at the Olympia Family Theater (I am a board member). They are doing a show for the parents on Friday (Snew White) but from what I can tell, there is a whole lot of singing The Greatest Showman. This afternoon, I brought them back to the store for a few minutes before their regular Wednesday babysitter picked them up.

Cate walks in the store, finds the book she was reading the last time she was here, sits down, and is completely sucked into the story. Jane wants me to go to the bathroom with her, she wants to see my cleaned-off desk, she wants to see if there are any snacks in the drawers (no), she wants to see what the workers are doing. The girls are so, so different. I enjoy and love both their approaches. One of my favorite things about parenting two children is I am a different mother to each child. They need different things from me. The connections are different. The tender spots are different. They are each having a unique, singular childhood.

One other story: A new para-educator started in Jane’s class in January. She’s a customer of the store so I know her a little. It took her three months before she realized that Cate and Jane were actually sisters, not just friends. They look nothing alike! I do love that she noticed they were friends before she knew they are sisters.

I hesitate to mention this but I am thinking (more than thinking) about participating in the #100DayProject. The idea is to pursue a creative project for 100 days from April 3 to July 11. The working title for my project is 100 Days of Noticing. I am so much more in my life if I am writing about it. I am planning to elaborate on a photograph here on the blog and then post an abbreviated version on my personal instagram account @andreaygriffith. No pressure to read every day or to even care, but writing this is how I am cementing my participation. This is day 2.

Day 1: Outer Order, Inner Calm

Have I mentioned we’ve been doing a major construction project at the store?

No? We’ve been preparing since January and it’s been a fiasco in every sense of the word. I won’t go into even 1% of the details but we thought we were doing a very straightforward fix-the-stairs-to-make-the-city-happy project and once started, our 1880s building threw a major fit. The entire floor upstairs was basically unsupported and had to come down and then replaced. There are so many books. Out came all of the books and the shelves and the nonsense stored on the floor above. We’ve been operating on half a store since the beginning of February.

The project is not done. We are having an event on April 20 that must occur upstairs but I have no illusions: the store will not be put back together by that date. We are hoping just for a bare-minimum, safety-first look.

All of this to say: I have always been a fervent believer in Gretchen Rubin’s tenant Outer Order, Inner Calm. Your external circumstances affect your internal state. You can probably guess how this project has left me feeling. My desk is upstairs, my files are upstairs, my sanity is upstairs. If I am on the floor of the store, I talk all day and the work just doesn’t get done. I have compensated by working at home more when experienced staff are working but when you own a retail store, you need to be there. So I have talked a lot.

The stairs are now built (no railings) but we can get upstairs. Telfer was on vacation last week and built a wall full of Ikea cabinets to put away our office supplies and window decorations. I spent last week cleaning the construction dust off of my desk and filing all my built-up paperwork. My view isn’t great (see the photo to the right) but my desk is clean and organized and workable. A small corner of calm. I can go upstairs. Things are looking up.

Reading update: my favorite book of the first quarter of 2018 is Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover – a must-read, especially if you have any experience with fundamentalism. And also, I fell under Karl Ove Knausgaard’s spell and am in awe of his beautifully imagined seasonal quartet: so far just Autumn and Winter.

One last photograph: Cate and Jane on Easter Sunday. Can you even believe how grown-up they look?

Oysters and W-2s

Necessary Treat

I spent much of the day filing quarterly taxes (of course I waited until the very last minute), sending out W-2s and getting myself organized on the financial front. It didn’t help that I remembered last year at this time Telfer and I were in Palm Springs, reading by the pool and brunching at Norma’s. The financial work took longer than I thought it would – ran out of stamps, forgot another form was due but I got it all done with a bit of time to spare. I had a glass of rosé and four oysters at my very favorite restaurant before I was due home to relieve the babysitter. It made all the difference.

Telfer is on call tonight. The girls and I are almost done reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Cate got braces on her bottom teeth today and everything hurts. A shower night. I love that I can send my girls up the stairs to take a shower and put on jammies before we read. It feels like an impossible milestone has been achieved. This week is so much more relaxed than last – the bookstore had four events in five days which is just too many. Still learning this same lesson over and over.

A highlight this week: went to two live shows. Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keene on Saturday night with Telfer and dear friends and then Roseanne Cash on Monday night by myself. Olympia is small but not small. I love when music and storytelling collide and this week has been particularly rich.

My reading week has been above normal. Sherry gave me a book in the New Year that I ended up listening to: Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Gregory Boyle. It’s just what I needed to read on so many levels. It’s such a tender book, especially in this current political climate. If I could embody any one spirit, this would be it. I almost started listening to it again immediately but decided to wait just a bit (to let it sink in). Cate asked me to read her copy of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel that I gave her for Christmas. Of course I did so immediately: when your 3rd grader asks you to read anything, you comply. I also read Winter by Ali Smith. Autumn was my favorite book of 2017 but Winter feels a little cold (pun intended, thank you James Wood for the New Yorker).

18 in 2018

office books

Does anyone else listen to the Happier Podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft? At the beginning of 2018, they both came up with a list of 18 things they wanted to do or focus on in 2018. An inveterate list-maker, I decided to play along. Here are my 18 in 2018 (in no particular order). Will try not to editorialize overly much.

  1. Learn to make gnocchi with the girls (thank you Eleanor).
  2. Renew passports.
  3. Turn 40 (gracefully). It’s going to happen whether I put it on the list or not, might as well have some intent around it!
  4. Run/walk (planning to run) Hood to Coast Washington with my dear college friends again in June. Implies there’s some training going on beforehand.
  5. Read first thing and last thing every day (not on phone).
  6. Streamline event planning at the store (say no more often, space out events, be more proactive).
  7. Go on quarterly solo reading getaways (probably one night).
  8. Light the candles (especially during the dark seasons).
  9. Spending fast/year of no shopping inspired by Ann Patchett. Only buy what I need in 2018 – no shopping for clothes or beauty products for fun. I unsubscribed from every email and unfollowed all stores on social media. Books are not part of this!
  10. Spend one night away a month with our family of four.
  11. Work for at least an hour before I go down to the shop (okay, have to editorialize here – I have been doing this for a bit now and it’s amazing how one hour of focused work changes my day in immense ways).
  12. Plan for Olympia’s first literary festival (this is exciting and big and we’re planning for September 2019).
  13. Do 23 and Me (genetic testing service).
  14. Travel with Telfer for my 40th birthday – walking trip in England and a couple of days in Paris.
  15. Watch all the 2018 Best Picture Nominees.
  16. Finish organizing pantry and labeling spice jars as well as finish niggling/less fun leftover items from our remodel.
  17. Fix the stairs at the store (major construction project) and re-vision children’s section.
  18. Build a more cohesive and rich web presence for the store.

If anyone else has a 18 in 2018 list, I would love, love to see it!